Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Trail advocates will rally Thursday

Posted by on Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 11:46 AM


Earlier in the month, I wrote about the conflict over including trails on the project list for PPRTA II (see "Fork in the road".)

Long story short, city groups think it's a grand idea; county groups think road projects need to come first.

But after catching some flack for that stance from trails advocates, the El Paso County commissioners decided to reconsider the recommendations of its PPRTA groups.

The county will meet on the issue tomorrow, and trails advocates, especially the Trails and Open Space Coalition, are seizing the opportunity to advocate.

Read on for TOSC's take:

El Paso County Trails projects were on the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority draft list approved by the Commissioners on Feb 28, 2012. Subsequently they were removed. The Commissioners are now holding this public meeting on PPRTA-2, where trails projects will be considered for re-inclusion, due to TOSC advocacy efforts.

Where: Centennial Hall, Cascade Ave and Vermijo, Colorado Springs

When: Thursday, April 26, 7-9pm

Why: Ask the County Commissioners to add Transportation Trails projects back into the proposed Capital Program list for PPRTA-2, which will go to the voters in November.

Talking Points:

• Trails are an important part of the multi-modal transportation network solutions for the Pikes Peak Region.

• Commuters need trails to get to and from work efficiently and safely.

• School children need trails as a safe way to get to and from school

• Trails provide environmental benefits, including cleaner air by reducing the use of fossil fuels.

• Trails reduce traffic congestion by getting people out of their cars.

• Trails reduce our personal and governmental transportation costs by using human power.

• You don't have to be 16 to ride on a trail, they are open to all ages.

• The Cities of Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs and the Town of Green Mountain Falls all have included non-motorized trails projects in their transportation project lists. The County should also.

• Trails need continuity between points A and B. The County needs to be a player so trails don't stop at the City limits.

• Having bike lanes included in City and County road projects absolutely helps address our transportation needs, but may not meet the needs of users who feel unsafe or don't have the skills to ride next to moving traffic.

• Trails have been and must continue to be part of our multimodal transportation solutions for our region.

• Trails provide health benefits for commuters and trails users.
Urge the County Commissioners to put County trails back into PPRTA-2.

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A fox family feast on Wahsatch

Posted by on Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 11:01 AM

You've gotta appreciate Discovery Channel or Animal Planet moments when they happen right in front of you in the city.

Not that it's a good thing that a family of foxes has formed its den in the median on Wahsatch Avenue — I'd rather see them safe away from fast traffic.

But I happened to be driving by the other day, returning a kick-ass camera lens that I'd borrowed from Sean Cayton for the recent Radiohead show in Denver, when I noticed three kits playing with one of their parents in the median.

I quickly screwed on Cayton's lens — perfect for the up-close shots from a distance so as not to disturb — and took the following series of photos as the other fox parent showed up with a freshly-caught squirrel for breakfast.

Check out a quick slideshow here, detailing the whole family meal. (Or click the photo below.)

A not so secret fox den in the city.

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Indy Minute: featuring films, llamas and a Cannibal!

Posted by on Fri, Apr 20, 2012 at 10:19 AM

This week's Indy Minute includes the fifth annual Indie Spirit Film Festival, Cannibal Corpse playing the Black Sheep, and the 15th annual Earth Day at the Garden — featuring, among other things, llamas!

Catch the new & improved Indy Minute with Jack Ward weekly at csindy.com.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Be like a city employee, except ... not

Posted by on Tue, Apr 17, 2012 at 12:04 PM


Over the last few years, the city has witnessed a lot of brown grass, free-flying trash, weeds and trail damage in its open spaces and parks.

Money has been spotty, and not all of the problems have been addressed adequately by the city. Thus, the city parks department and the Trails and Open Space Coalition have been working together since 2010 to train volunteers that could take up where city workers left off. The program is called the Open Space Volunteers.

But there is a problem. While volunteers can easily pick up trash, it takes special training to be able to maintain and renovate trails. More "crew leaders" are needed to direct larger groups of untrained volunteers. And those are lacking.

This weekend may help to alleviate that shortage. The city parks department, TOSC, the Rocky Mountain Field Institute, the Friends of Red Rock Canyon and the Friends of the Peak are working together to present a weekend-long intensive training. The sessions are free, and 10 of 40 spots remain open.

"This is really different," TOSC executive director Susan Davies says. "We brought these people together to put together a really exhaustive training ... there's a lot of pieces to this and we really hope this takes us to a new level."

Volunteers for the training will receive meals, a "how to" manual, and a free water bottle. To sign up for the training call TOSC at 633-6884, or call City Parks at 385-6542 and ask for Deb.

Not able to dedicate so much time to parks and open space? Davies points out that regular volunteers are still needed to get trails in shape for the summer. Many projects are underway — there are four volunteer projects around the city on this Saturday alone. Check openspacevolunteers.org for volunteer opportunities.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Your chance to befriend a county park

Posted by on Tue, Apr 10, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Fountain Creek Nature Center

El Paso County wants the community to "friend" the county's parks, starting with Fountain Creek Regional Park.

A meeting to organize a Friends of Fountain Creek Regional Park will take place at 6:30 p.m. April 25 at the Fountain Creek Nature Center, 320 Pepper Grass Lane, Fountain.

It's part of a trend to get the community to step up and participate in keeping the county's parks in good shape. In March, an El Paso County Fairgrounds friends organizational meeting was held. In May, the county will rally support for Bear Creek Regional Park on the city's southwest side, and in June, for Fox Run Regional Park in the north part of the county, says Dana Nordstrom, community outreach coordinator for county parks.

"What we're trying to do is multiply our presence in our community," she says. "In the past I don't think there's been a way for people to say, 'Hey, I want to do this in our parks,' and connect them with a park supervisor.

"For a friends group to really take hold," she continues, "there's gotta be community buy-in and a desire for a community to do something in their park. I can rally and say, 'We would love to do this,' but if there's not a part of the community that wants to do that, there's not much we can do."

So, if you're interested, show up at the April 25 meeting for Fountain Creek Regional Park. For more information about that or subsequent organizational meetings, contact Nordstrom at dananordstrom@elpasoco.com or at 520-6983.

Fox Run Regional Park

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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Smoke signals: controlled burns outside Woodland Park

Posted by on Sat, Mar 24, 2012 at 10:00 AM

About 1,500 acres in the Trout West Ecosystem Management Project northwest of Woodland Park will be "treated" with prescribed burns that will begin soon.

The announcement comes from the Pike National Forest's Pikes Peak Ranger District in a news release.

The prescribed burns may cover up to 400 acres at one time. The burns will start when "favorable weather and fuel conditions permit" and continue into the fall but no specific days were given.

Ignition can take place only when weather and fuel conditions are optimal. Once the project begins, burning may last from one to several days, with smoke visible from Highway 67 during burning days and several days following ignition. These burns may continue into fall 2012.

Vegetation types are mostly ponderosa pine, grass and shrubs. Most of the timber has been thinned by commercial projects and hazard fuels reduction crews and the slash piles from these treatments have been burned. Surface burning of the area is the final step in the process and is designed to reduce the amount of timber, needles and small diameter woody debris. Fire managers expect the burns to improved soil nutrients and help grass and shrubs to re-sprout for wildlife habitat.
The Trout Creek Prescribed Burn is part of the Trout West Ecosystem Management Project on the Pike & San Isabel National Forests. It is a multi-year undertaking to restore more open conifer stands to the area, increase the amount of grass, shrubs and aspen and reduce dead fuel loading on the forest floor.
For more information contact the Pikes Peak District office at 719-636-1602

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

North Cheyenne Cañon loses its 'Cub'

Posted by on Tue, Mar 6, 2012 at 2:43 PM


The Helen Hunt Visitor Center, known affectionately as “The Cub,” met its end on the morning of March 5.

Sadly, the tiny 100-year-old, cabin-like horse stable was simply at the end of its useful life. The Friends of North Cheyenne Cañon worked for years to raise money to replace the building. Fundraising included $75,000 over five years from sales of a charitable beer created by Bristol Brewing Co., the donated time and talent of Doug Fullen of Way Architects, and more than $38,000 from the 2011 Indy Give! campaign, among other gifts.

The replacement structure will also look like a rustic log cabin, and will feature round, glass-less windows that allow hummingbirds to fly in, just as its predecessor did. City program coordinator and visitor center manager Cathy Railton says the structure, which will be open only during the summer, is almost more of a pavilion, and won’t have modern amenities like indoor plumbing.

On the other hand, she notes, “It will not have rotten logs or a leaking roof, [and] it will be a lot more sturdy and sound for probably at least 100 years to come.”

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

UPDATE: Incline deal takes giant step

Posted by on Wed, Feb 29, 2012 at 4:47 PM

A little extra information, courtesy of the city:

Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs City Councils approve agreement to manage Manitou Incline

Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs city councils yesterday approved a milestone inter-governmental (IGA) agreement to manage one of the Pikes Peak region’s most-popular trails. The agreement is one important step in a lengthy process to facilitate the legal use of the former Mt. Manitou Incline Scenic Railway for public recreation. Currently, hikers are trespassing each time they scale the steep slope, which gains some 2,000 feet of elevation in one mile. An estimated 350,000 trips are made up the trail annually.

Colorado Springs Council President Scott Hente said, “This project is a great collaboration between two communities and three landowners to mitigate the impacts of unmanaged recreational activities and establish another iconic outdoor destination for Pikes Peak Region residents and visitors. I’m so grateful that Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs are again leveraging their combined resources to enhance the quality of life in both of these great cities.”

The IGA is essentially a good-faith agreement between neighboring communities on how to manage the trail — once it is open. Approving the IGA did not open the Incline to legal public use and no opening date has been set. Challenging issues must be resolved before the cities will agree to open the Incline such as: managing parking in Manitou Springs, particularly along Ruxton Avenue and in surrounding neighborhoods, and making trail and trailhead improvements. In addition, legal agreements are still required with the Manitou and Pikes Peak Railway Company, and United States Forest Service. Congress must also abandon the railway, which is being handled by U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs.

In the meantime, Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs are establishing a review committee to address issues related to the opening and management of the Incline and a volunteer group, Incline Friends, is proceeding to improve the trail and address safety concerns. The cities will continue to update the public as progress is made to formally open the Incline to legal, public recreation.

# # #


A deal to legalize hiking on the wildly popular Manitou Incline trail is one step closer to reality.

Despite concerns about everything from liability to parking to overcrowding in Manitou Springs, both the Manitou Springs City Council and the Colorado Springs City Council unanimously approved an intergovernmental agreement that divvies up responsibilities for the trail once it's opened.

Springs City Councilor Bernie Herpin said he was excited to see the project move forward, even if he never plans to use the trail.

"Being a law-and-order guy, I've resisted the urge to kill myself by taking three steps up the Incline," Herpin joked.

The Incline, a steep trail up Mount Manitou that is illegally hiked 350,000 to 500,000 times a year, sits on property owned by Colorado Springs Utilities, the Pikes Peak Cog Railway and the U.S. Forest Service. Colorado Springs would manage the trail alongside a friends group, while Manitou Springs tackles traffic and parking issues.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tour of Colorado Springs bicycling event in trouble

Posted by on Wed, Feb 22, 2012 at 12:08 PM

All that upbeat talk last week about a new Tour of Colorado Springs bicycling event, with perhaps thousands of participants following a course around the city, vanished this morning.

Mayor Steve Bach announced that he has withdrawn his support for the proposed event this summer, and it likely will be taken off the agenda for City Council next week, Council President Scott Hente says.

Bach and Council had given an initial go-ahead to organizers last week for the city to help sponsor the proposed event, similar to one that has been hugely successful in Tucson, Ariz.

“I am not supporting it today,” Bach said at the Mayor's Counsel meeting this morning. He added that when he gave initial approval last week, he didn’t understand the proposal that well, and was going on staff recommendations. The mayor says he still hasn't seen the Tour's business plan or paperwork he had requested.

Bach said he'd feel better if the event had private-sector partners. He added that his office had talked to organizers about perhaps delaying it until 2013 and perhaps seeking money from the city's lodging and car rental tax.

Councilor Bernie Herpin said he had reservations about the event getting enough volunteers, saying, “I thought this was all kind of rushed."

Hente and Bach said the city will be taking a closer look at all events that the local government sponsors.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Artists: Create for the Pro Cycling Challenge

Posted by on Mon, Feb 13, 2012 at 6:39 PM

This is one of Duchamps Readymades. Google it.
  • This is one of Duchamp's "Readymades." Google it.

Bicycles make great muses, whether for a flashy, graphic poster, a memorable old photograph of smoking European cyclists, or something totally conceptual and (I hate the word, but) whimsical, like Marcel Duchamp's "Bicycle Wheel."

The USA Pro Cycling Challenge is looking for such inspiration for its second official commemorative poster contest, which will start accepting entries tomorrow. Professionals, amateurs and aspiring artists and designers are welcome to create posters that reflect the bike, its rider and the Challenge's famously beautiful settings here in Colorado. (FYI, the Springs will host part of the fifth stage.)

Entries must be submitted digitally through the Challenge's Facebook page, and will be accepted until March 16. Then, votes cast through Facebook will determine the three best posters for each host city and the 10 best nationally. After that, a panel of judges will select winners, who will receive cash prizes and have his/her poster produced and sold. A portion of the proceeds will go to charity.

More details below:

USA Pro Cycling Challenge Welcomes Back National Contest for Fans to Create Official Commemorative Poster
Contest to be Hosted on Facebook with Winner Announced April 16

DENVER (February 13, 2012) — The 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge will again host a nation-wide contest inviting artists to create unique event posters for not only each of the 12 host cities, but also a national event poster that will be seen throughout the world. All types of artists — professional, amateur, aspiring — are encouraged to let their creativity flow and submit their designs via the USA Pro Cycling Challenge Facebook page beginning tomorrow (Feb. 14). Entries will be accepted until Friday, March 16, with the winners being announced on Monday, April 16.

Artists will have plenty to draw upon as the 2012 Pro Challenge route guides the world’s elite cyclists through some of the most picturesque settings in the country. From the world-renowned mountaintop resorts in Aspen and Breckenridge, to legendary cycling cities like Boulder and Durango, no two posters will look alike.

“Being able to combine scenic backdrops, the intense competition of the USA Pro Challenge and the creative eye of artists should result in some of the most stunning portrayals of our sport we have ever seen,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the USA Pro Challenge. “The level of talent and creativity we witnessed with the submissions last year was so incredible; we knew this was something we had to do again in 2012.”

Colorado resident Alyssa Graves won the inaugural contest in 2011.

“Winning the contest for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge national poster was one of the highlights of my life,” said Graves. “It was humbling to be chosen from a group of so many great designs. The timing was absolutely perfect to boost my career as a new business owner in Golden, Colorado, where the final stage of the race began. I look at my poster almost daily and recognize it as a turning point in my growth as an artist. I'm SO glad I said yes to the opportunity to enter when it came up last year and am looking forward to designing something new for this year's race.”

Once entries are submitted, the race’s thousands of loyal Facebook fans will have a chance to cast their votes for the three best posters for each host city and the ten best national posters. From there, special panels of judges consisting of dignitaries, media and city officials will select each of the winners. Winners receive a cash prize in addition to having his/her poster produced and sold to race fans both online and onsite during the race August 20-26. A portion of the proceeds from the national poster will be donated to America’s Road Home, while proceeds from many of the 12 host city posters will benefit local charitable causes.

All entries must be submitted via the USA Pro Challenge Facebook contest page (only online entries will be eligible). This requires either that the artwork be in digital media format or that a digital photograph of the artwork be posted in accordance with the rules, terms and conditions adopted by Facebook. Each file must be in JPEG format and otherwise comply with Facebook’s requirements for posting images. Multiple entries can be submitted, but must be submitted at the same time.

This is a skill-based contest and chance plays no part in the determination of winners. There is no fee to enter and no purchase is required. Official rules for the program can be found at www.facebook.com/USAProCyclingChallenge.

About the USA Pro Cycling Challenge
For seven consecutive days, the world’s top athletes race through the majestic Rockies, reaching higher altitudes than they’ve ever had to endure — more than two miles in elevation. One of the largest cycling events in United States history, the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge will feature the best of the best in professional cycling, competing on a challenging course through some of America’s most beautiful scenery.

Referred to as “America’s Race,” the second annual USA Pro Cycling Challenge will take place August 20-26, 2012, a week proclaimed by Governor John Hickenlooper as “Colorado Cycling Holiday,” and travel through 12 host cities from Durango to Denver. More than 1 million spectators are expected to once again line the route to see if Levi Leipheimer will defend his title as reigning champion, while millions more around the world watch the race live on television and online through the Tour Tracker.

More information can be found online at www.USAProCyclingChallenge.com and on Twitter at @USAProChallenge.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Tonight! Incline Friends membership kick-off

Posted by on Wed, Jan 25, 2012 at 4:54 PM

The Trails and Open Space Coalition is hosting a membership kick-off for its newly formed group Incline Friends from 6 to 9 tonight. This group is devoted to Incline maintenance as well as attempting to make climbing the Incline legal and open to the public.

The kick-off will be at Phantom Canyon Brewing Co. (2 E. Pikes Peak Ave.). Current members of Incline Friends will update the audience on the status of the project as well as inform them of the process of legalizing the Incline.

For a $35 annual fee, new members have the opportunity to possibly get free beer from Phantom Canyon (for the first 50 people who join) as well as a free Incline Friends T-shirt.

Can't make it tonight? Visit the website for a membership form to mail in.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Indy Minute

Posted by on Wed, Jan 11, 2012 at 7:15 PM

Millibo Art Theatre brings Barry Smith back to town for a limited-engagement run of Jesus in Montana: Adventures in a Doomsday Cult, the City of Manitou gets ready to fire away with the 17th annual Great Fruitcake Toss, and local NAACP President Rosemary Harris Lytle will speak on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The details are all in this week's Indy Minute.

Tune in to the Indy Minute — as seen on ABC affiliate KRDO News Channel 13 — each week for details on all the events that entertain and bring our community together. It's simulcast on KRDO News Radio 105.5 FM and 1240 AM.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Indy Minute

Posted by on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 at 3:15 PM

Thanksgiving treats abound! Cut into this week's Indy Minute with Jack Ward, as he serves up the latest on what to do this holiday weekend.

Tune into the Indy Minute — as seen on ABC affiliate KRDO News Channel 13 — each week for details on all the events that entertain and bring our community together. It's simulcast on KRDO News Radio 105.5 FM and 1240 AM.

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Monday, November 14, 2011

20 reasons why vacation beats work

Posted by on Mon, Nov 14, 2011 at 5:42 PM


So I just returned from some time off work, which my girlfriend and I spent traveling across Chile and Argentina.

Out of some 2,000 photos we took, here's 20 of my current favorites that at least visually, sum up the trip.

I've organized them into a tidy slideshow for your brief viewing pleasure.

If you're unconvinced that you care to click on the above link — I know: Another schmuck with a camera wants to share his vacay photos with you — perhaps this photo from the show will entice you:

Poppies in spring bloom in the wine country outside of Santiago.
  • Matthew Schniper
  • Poppies in spring bloom in the wine country outside of Santiago.

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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Indy Minute

Posted by on Thu, Nov 3, 2011 at 9:31 AM

Music, Movies and Movement are all a part of this week's Indy Minute. That's a lot of M's...don't miss out!

Tune into the Indy Minute — as seen on ABC affiliate KRDO News Channel 13 — each week for details on all the events that entertain and bring our community together. It's simulcast on KRDO News Radio 105.5 FM and 1240 AM.

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